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Pontiac Tempest Convertible

I am currently looking at a 1965 Pontiac Tempest Convertible to purchase. The current owner wants $7800 for the vehicle. The odomeder reads 43000 miles. He is not sure if it is 43000 or 143,000 miles. The car has been repainted, no bondo is on the car. The bumpers have no rust and the interior has not been restored. The motor has not been rebuilt. Is this a reasonable price for the car? Also, what are the chances this vehicle will increase in value in the future.


  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    This Tempest convertible wouldn't happen to be white with gold-on-blue California plates, not the original yellow on black plates? 326 automatic? Maybe I owned that car. There can't be too many of them around.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    For a Tempest...I dunno. Maybe If I was looking at it I would feel differently?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    It sounds like full retail to me....not an outrageous price but really it should be a pretty sharp car for that money....not a "show" car, but there should be nothing raggy about it.

    If the owner isn't "sure" about the mileage, you just assume 143K and pay accordingly...without documented proof, low mileage claims are essentially worthless.

    As for appreciation, being something of a GTO look-alike, it will hold value and probably creep up year by year, dragged up in value by the real muscle cars of the era. But don't look for spectacular gains.

    Still, it is an attractive car and still very driveable on modern roads, so try and cut your best deal if you like the car. I'd suggest $5K-6K as your target price, presuming the interior is not trashed and the car is ready to drive.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Over 36 years that's still only 6750 miles a year. Granted it's probably just been a week-end car for maybe half its life but that still leaves plenty of time for the usual 12-15k per year.

    There were 8346 Tempest Custom convertibles sold in 1965, compared to 13,897 LeMans and 11,311 GTO convertibles. What's the usual survival rate, 10% +/-? Might be more with ragtops so maybe 100 are still left? Maybe I'm low.

    With the Tempest you don't get some of the LeMans bells and whistles like the fake wood dash, passenger assist bar and buckets (although buckets were optional). The vinyl upholstery pattern is different too.

    Mine was maybe a $500 car when I bought it because a) this was the early '80s and b) it ran on less than 8 cylinders. A neighbor had a '65 LeMans post coupe he'd owned since new, I bought it for a few hundred bucks and put the engine and transmission in the convertible. A kid bought the coupe to put a 400/Turbo into it from a wrecked Grand Prix.

    About all I remember of either car is that I liked the lighter more solid coupe a lot more than the ragtop.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    You have to be careful about the "rarity" this case, there were few sold because everybody wanted the ragtops with the higher trim level. So old cars that were rare due to poor sales don't usually get a premium attached to them because they are scarce now.

    I've been checking all my price guides (about 6 of 'em) and they all seem to concur that a clean daily driver (basically a nice, ready to go car that needs no cosmetics) is around a $6-7K car. If you have rips and tears and little dings and faded paint and needs tires and this or that is broken, deduct accordingly.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Posts: 572
    Didn't the Tempest come with the 6 cylinder standard? My understanding is the V-8 adds quite a bit to the value.

    I've been looking at similar cars (65-67 Tempests, GTO's, etc), and prices are all over the board, depending on condition. Many that were in solid condition have already been converted to GTO clones, so if this one is the original drivetrain, may be pretty rare, though not necessarily worth much. I would say a completely rebuilt one converted to a GTO will go for close to $13,000, and down from there.

    My problem has been finding one with the 4 speed. I am finding ones with manuals actually go for more than the automatics, same for Mopar's.
    If the engine and tranny run well, but original, I would think a rebuild is not too far down the road.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Of course you're right, I didn't mean to imply that the Tempest is worth more because of its rarity. You get less "stuff" with the Tempest and that's got to factor into its desirability down the road. I was just wondering out loud how many might still be left based on the usual attrition rate. The only one I've seen was the one I owned.

    So few Tempests and LeMans came with the standard 215 six that I think the V8 is a given in the market. You'd subtract (a lot) for the six and not add for the very common 326-2v/auto combination. I doubt the strong 326 4 barrel engine would add much if any value over the 2v--a 326 is just another oddball (not a Chevy) V8 to the vast majority of buyers.

    I think what sold most of these cars was perceived sportiness--V8, standard buckets, circular instruments with wood dash overlay, the grab bar in front of the passenger--and of course the halo effect from the GTO.

    Yes people pay more for the 4 speed and they'll convert their automatics to 4-speeds. That's a big part of the musclecar mystique.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    My option book shows a V-8 available with the Tempest Custom in 1965. I think a V8 would add value, but not a great deal, since it isn't a very powerful V8 (326 cid)...maybe 10-20% add-on? Seems to me to convert this car to a GTO would cost much more than the $13,000 value (if someone would pay that much for a fake, I dunno). But maybe if you just did the badging and trim on the exterior, that wouldn't cost so much.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,571
    ...the odometer read something like 45,000 miles. I bought it in 1994 from a sales lot that had a lot of old cars on the lot. Naturally, I didn't believe them that a 27 year old car would only have 45,000 miles on it. It had a rebuilt 400, with a 4bbl, and a rebuilt tranny, and an interior that was in very good original shape, except for the vinyl on the driver's part of the seat was replaced and didn't quite match.

    Still, I couldn't believe that a car with only 45,000 miles on it could have needed a rebuilt tranny and engine. The sales guy said to look at the pedals, which showed very little wear.

    Well, I ended up buying it, and it's been a pretty good car. Not perfect, but I only paid about $3700 for it. Oh yeah, it also had a box of spare parts in the trunk, like the original 2-bbl carb and intake. It also had the original gas pedal, buried under some other parts, and it had plenty of wear on it. 45,000 miles? SUUUURE!

    Oh yeah, one of the first things it needed was ball joints, but I remember you guys saying that the big Pontiacs back then had really undersized ball joints, so that was a common thing.

    Sometimes it's really hard to tell just how many miles a car has on it. I really wish they had 6-digit odometers back then. I know the cars supposedly weren't supposed to last that long, but I've run into enough of them that have.

    As for the '65 Pontiac intermediates, how popular are they nowadays, compared to the '64 and the '66 and later ones? My father had a '64 GTO, and that's his favorite year, while my uncle had a '67, which was his favorite year. Something about the '65 always looked too "pretty", compared to the '64 and the '66-67, which just looked more muscular.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Posts: 572
    The guy spent close to $40,000 to do a complete every nut and bolt type conversion. He lost a ton on it too.

    Forgot to mention, it was a convertible 65 GTO with a 67 GTO drivetrain. It seems convertibles are much more expensive than the hardtops, even a clone.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well, that follows standard collector car most (not all, interestingly enough) cases, a ragtop version of a car will bring considerably more money than the coupe. This is understandable, as the converts are often more attractive and often cost more to restore.

    Actually, in the real powerful muscle cars, you'd be better off with a coupe. Some of those monster engines could literally twist the frame on the rather poorly built cars they were put into.

    GTOs are SO hot right now, if...if...they are beautifully done and accurate.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    At least when I was into GTOs the '65s were the one to have. That's the one most people think of when they think "world-beater GTO".

    Most collectors think the '64 is too boxy and there weren't enough sold for them to have a high profile when we boomers were in high school--which of course determines value now.

    The '66s and '67s are more elegant but also heavier and more refined. The '67's attractions are a better engine and automatic but '66 was the last year for Tri-power which is like the Holy Grail for Pontiac collectors.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Posts: 572
    Have to say, after looking at a few cars the advertise as being in "good" condition, I guess good is definitely a matter of opinion. Maybe I am expecting too much for a 35 year old car, but a convertible not having big gaps between the glass and top with the doors closed, not having rusted out floor and trunk pans, a ratty interior, and not sounding like a bomb would be at a minimum good condition for me. Not expecting perfect trim, but a decent interior and no more than superficial surface rust on a smooth running car would be "good" condition to me.

    I've learned market prices are tough to figure out, and is purely what someone is willing to pay. If I buy a car, how does that show up in the price guides, or are those only from large auctions?

    Went to the Pontiac Nationals, GTO's were everywhere, obviously not that rare. I think they are popular due to the nice size, attractive interior, performance, as well as their history. I much prefer them to the Firebird.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I always call asking price "exercising your first amendment rights"....this is why price guides should never be based on asking prices. And you're right, there is an enormous amount of truth-stretching when it comes to describing "condition".

    Yes, a lot of price guide info comes from auctions, and some from dealers. Private party sales info is difficult to gather, but it trickles in as well.

    A good price guide can be amazingly accurate, as long as you realize that price guides do not really deal with show cars and fools with money, both of which can defy the laws of logic.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    jsylvester's comment about preferring the GTO to the Firebird reminds me that I felt the same way. I had a '69 Firebird 400 briefly at the same time I was driving a '69 GTO Judge and the GTO just seemed like a better car.

    The weight-to-hp ratios were probably identical. The Firebird 400 was the same engine as the standard GTO 400/350 but derated to 335 hp, supposedly by restricting the opening of the secondary throttle plate. The Judge had the 360-hp Ram Air III but of course it was a little heavier.

    The Firebird had a shorter wheelbase--108" compared to 115"--and it felt a little more nimble. According to contemporary road tests the 400 was set further back in the engine compartment than the Camaro 396 so it didn't have the typical nose-heavy feel of a big block car.

    But the GTO just felt like a better car, perhaps because it was body-on-frame. Also I think the quality of the interior materials was a little better, and the interior styling was more "rich".
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,571
    I think the body-on-frame had a lot to do with it. Unitized cars usually have a weight advantage, but when you start cramming in bigger engines, I'm guessing that weight advantage often goes away once the subframes and stuff are beefed up.

    I've always wondered...the first, '61-63 Tempests (and Specials/F-85's)...were they unitized or body-on-frame?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I thought so but had to check. I had two of these cars but couldn't remember even though I spent some time under both of them.

    The '63 Skylark I had briefly was a very pleasant cruiser, V8 automatic and buckets, very quiet and smooth. I liked it but my wife told me it looked like a pedal car and that I looked ridiculous driving it.

    The '63 LeMans I had started out as kind of the first GTO--326 Pontiac engine, not the aluminum V8--but by the time I got it someone had installed a 389. This wasn't an improvement because the stock 3-speed was delicate even behind the 326. It's also an impossible swap because the '63 326 had a one-year-only crank design that mated with the unique Tempest input shaft. The 326 crank would have fit in the 389 (same stroke and journals) but this guy didn't know that so I bought a car that sounded like it had the mother of all bad throw-out bearings. Took it to a mechanic who got the parts to work right but he wouldn't tell me how. I think he was tired of taking on my "difficult cases".

    With the big engine up front and Corvair swing axles in the rear it was the only car I ever had that could go from grinding understeer to call-Ralph-Nader oversteer in the same turn.

    On the other hand I had a friend in high school who had a '63 LeMans that seemed like a nice car. Red over black, four speed, four barrel 194 four, buckets. A great $250 car. He was very much into burnouts and it didn't take long for him to grenade the transaxle. Those were really interesting cars with lots of performance options and I wouldn't buy one on a bet.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    That "rope drive" driveshaft made the BEST prybars in the world! Every shop should have one!
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    My mom drove one of these (grandpa's car) before I was born, it was one of her favorite. I'm not sure which engine it had, but I do know it was an automatic, and she always talked about how fast it was. I seem to remember pictures of it having a checkered flag-type emblem on the front (no, it wasn't a Chevy). Guess I gotta research this one.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I'm watching 'I Dream of Jeannie' right now, and Tony has a black 65 GTO convertible w/wire caps. Nice.
    Off-topic, I could have sworn the first year of 'Jeannie' was done in black & white, but this episode is in color (possibly colorized?). It has the old-style theme song. Any help on this?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,571
    Yup, the first season was black and white. I'm pretty sure the first season ran in '65-66. What station are you getting it on? It's very, very rare that I see "Jeannie" or "Bewitched" in black and white. For some reason, they're not as popular for syndication, but I think that's a shame, because usually it seems the earlier episodes of any tv show are the best!

    Slightly on-topic...I remember an episode of "CHiPs" where they ran a really beautiful blue '65 Tempest 'vert under a tanker truck. Oh, the humanity!
  • parmparm Posts: 724
    Around 1972, my parents bought a red '65 Tempest convertible for my older brother who is 4 years my senior. After a couple of years, he didn't want anything to do with it (wasn't cool enough I guess). So, as a 14 year old, I adopted it and kept it clean. During even the coldest winter days (in E. Central Indiana), I'd go outside, start it up and wipe off the icky build up from inside the convertible top.

    By the time I was 14-15, I was running "solo" errands to the store for my Mom during the summers at Lake Wawasee (in Northern Indiana). Back then, there weren't many cars on the back roads. Looking back on those days, I can't believe I did it. It was a great learning experience. On the way home, I'd take an incredibly winding road. Surprisingly, I kept all 4 wheels down on the ground (most of the time). I was a pretty down to earth kid and somehow I was able to convince my parents to let me take the car out by myself - though they didn't allow me to make a habit of it.

    NO WAY, I'll let my kids drive by themselves when they get that age. But, it sure was cool when I did it.

    Our '65 Tempest only had a 6-cyl. and thus was no speed demon. (good thing!) The interior was pretty spartan and was not overly exciting once you got inside. But the car was in decent shape when we sold it around 1976. Selling it wasn't a huge deal to me at the time, because as a 16 year old I wanted something a bit more substantial (I wound up buying a 400ci, '72 Grand Prix - Cragers and all!). But, I think back on those days and am sad we ever sold it.

    Two things I'd now like to have back that are gone forever. My dad and that car - in that order.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I've been spending my unemployed days watching on the Hallmark Channel (79 on AT&T broadband):

    My Three Sons (Pontiacs, mostly wagons) 2-3pm (Central)
    Bewitched (tons of great Chevrolets) 3-4pm
    I Dream of Jeannie (Pontiacs) 4-5pm

    Right now they're on the first season of Jeannie (but it's in bad color, I suspect they colorized it), and likely the last season of Bewitched (w/Darrin #2) and My Three Sons (they're driving Fords, including 71 or later Mustang and Country Squire). Sad I have this much time and attention to devote to 30+ year old sitcoms, eh?

    Jeannie is fun to watch just for the Pontiacs. The Maj had 65 and 66 GTO converts, a 67 GP convertible, then I think GTO convertibles again. Dr. Bellows always had Bonneville 4 door hardtops, and Roger usually had Firebirds (including a really cool orange 69 ragtop).
This discussion has been closed.